Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sharpie Lettering "Jacob" PLUS a How To

Yesterday I evening I had a little extra time to pass so I grabbed a fresh sheet of 18"x24" drawing paper and started on a fresh piece. Anytime I'm uncertain of what the outcome will be, or if it's not a final piece, I'll usually do it on drawing paper since it's not as serious a loss as canvas, illustration board, or marker paper would be. So I set out to write the name "Jacob":

With my fresh sheet of paper tapped down to my desk to keep from shifting while working, I grabbed my trusty Sharpie Pro Fine Tip (4) and drew out the letters and how I wanted them to interact paying close attention to line clearances, line weights, and and black and white balance. With the basic lines down, I went heavier with black in areas to achieve the perspective I wanted. At this stage I only have the name outlined- none of the other black arrows or daggers that protrude outwards exist yet.

The next step is the red, so I grabbed my Copic Cadmium Red (5) to add the outline around the outsides of all the letters while again being slightly heavier in the direction of the perspective I'm working towards. I know right here people would be asking 'Why didn't you use a red Sharpie?'. In this case, brands like Copic and Prismacolor offer markers with incredible tone control- so I can build up to a nice bright red and even darken it in some areas with the same marker. This can be done with a red Sharpie as well as long as that shade of red is what you are looking for.

Next is to go back to the Sharpie Pro Fine Tip (4) and start working shapes into the remaining areas of white inside the letters- this will help balance the white and black a bit. While doing this, I also took some of the black outside the letters just to be more interesting overall. Again, that will help with the color balance.

The next thing I did was use the Sharpie .3 Pen (6) and sharpen all the corners and tips that way I want.

Now I can see how much room I have around the letters... so I decided to grab a low pressure Paint Sprayer (1) and fill it with a mix of Basics Acrylic Black (2) and water to dilute it to my liking. It ends up being mostly water since I want the black to be pretty week. Outside the paper is masked off to keep overspray from getting on the desk. The result of a couple passes around the edges is a nice course gravely effect.

With that dry I used a White Sable Brush (8) with the same acrylic black mix from the spray and start painting in spider cracks. At first they dry grey, which is good because you dont want them too strong at first. Slowly I'll add a little more black paint to the mix and work the lines until the darkest parts are concentrated towards the outer edges, while the lighter grey is closer to the letters. This helps keep the center of focus on the letters, but still allows for a little detail around the edges making the drawing feel more complete.

Now that the border is done, time for some airbrushing with my trusty Iwata Eclipse (7) which has been converted from a .5mm nozzle to a .35 mm. I'll make up a mix of Craftsman Acrylic Black (3) and water until I get the transparency of grey I'm looking for- again basically mostly water with a little black in it. I used a different brand of black from the earlier step because the Craftsman brand is a little thinner and goes through the airbrush easier then the diluted version of Basics I think. It'll take a couple passes over the shadowed and shaded area to get the tone I want but thats ok- I'd rather build up the tone slowly with a weaker mix of transparent black then out too much down too quickly and ruin the whole effect. The shadows themselves also have to placed correctly in order for certain effects to really work- in which case light source and perspective come into play. But done with care, shading and shadows have a big impact in the final piece.

The result is something wickedly cool and totally unique. From start to finish this piece took about 1 1/2 hours to complete including dry time in between acrylics, and everything was done completely freehand.

Thanks for looking!

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